I've been trying to get back into the swing of things at work for a few days now, but I am struggling. All I can think about is the sea and sea fishing. A week or more ago I was concerned with little more than what time I could be bothered to get up to go out sea fishing, or possibly at a push what sort of delicious bacon I should buy from the local butchers to eat for breakfast after I'd been sea fishing. You see my comfort of being in that nosily silent strip of shingle and sand at the very edge of the land just grows all the time. Right now I could, from a fishing point of view, probably give up on rivers and lakes and give myself to the sea... and surely you understand why when it looks like this around dawn.
Mind you, saying that I am not so foolish as to think that it's all rippling sunsets and dawns. I saw first hand how violent it can be. A beautiful golden beach myself and JB have in past walked on was there last time we went east, whereas this time it was quite literally gone! And I mean gone!!! Some eight feet in depth and a few hundred in distance feet between the sea wall and high tide of pure sand was just stripped away. All that remained was a compacted shingle and mud base. The sea had been so violent when it reclaimed this beach that it tore three hundred pound blocks of stone off the sea wall and left a massive stretch of the coast unsafe to walk upon. As upsetting as it is to see the possible violence of the sea I do find it quite exciting and the openness of it also allows us anglers to be a little violent with it and give it some as well. Unlike fishing on some of our crammed inland fisheries, when fishing on the sea can really let rip! In fact you need to have a good go to get on the fish sometimes.
For once I hadn't made any effort to find out what if anything was onshore before I arrived and my first enquiry at the local bait purveyor really set the tone for the coming week. Quite simply after inflating his cheeks and exhaling he told me that there was lots of fish and plenty of action to be had BUT! hardly anything worth keeping. To any non sea anglers it might seem a bit alien. Although just catching is important the underlying aim of most sea anglers is to catch fish that are legal to take and in a few case ones that aren't. That was a hard thing for me to get my head round at first given the highly publicised plight of our inshore fish stocks. But given time I grew to understand that if every sea angler in the UK took every fish they caught they still wouldn't do one percent of the damage that a single trawler can do in a year. So as long as what they take is legal, which a very high number are not, it's OK.
Given my new information on the current catches I decided to have a tester session to see for myself what was around and so purchased myself a few hundreds grams of rag to how best approach what was around.
As always the guys on the ground proved right and after firing a three hook flapper rig loaded with rag not far beyond the low tide mark my rod tip began it's week long vibration. There was fish here there and everywhere and every one wanted my bait. When you get this sort of instant reaction sea fishing you know it's going to be a busy sort of week casting wise and I was glad I'd opted for a single rod, as fishing two in conditions like this gets expensive when you're buying bait.
From the off a steady stream of pouting, whiting and codling obliged and after only three casts I changed down to a two hook flapper to conserve bait as these plucky fish were consuming everything I could cast out.
Sure enough it was like there was a billion biting mouths out beyond the foot high waves and in the sea even the most innocuous little fish has teeth.
By mid week I was getting a little bored of the same size and shape of small fish and in the best possible way was getting a bit repetitive. One thing that had kept me amused was the flocks of Turnstones which work all along the beach I was fishing. These tiny forgers spend all day doing as their name implies turning over stones looking for tasty crustaceans and insects to eat. Every so often they for no apparent reason all take to the air and fly in a circuit out over the sea like a group of fighter jets than land back maybe ten feet from where they took off. Only one time did I see them doing anything different and that was when a whole flock stopped their rummaging and simply went to ground almost disappearing from sight amongst the shingle.
I needed a change of plan to kick start me. So after hearing that there was apparently a few dabs showing amongst the other fish I decided to change bait and rigs to try and get amongst these prized eating fish.
Now they might look pudgy and juicy, but the lug worm I changed to are not only are a little bit tougher than the soft rag worm but also are a good choice if bass are about in this area, and when also stale are reputed to be a very good dab bait locally.
The rigs to were swapped from multiple hook flappers to gaudy flat fish rigs with flashing blades to hopefully attract these predatory yet greedy little flatties.
So the rest of the week I worked hard trying to search out a few dabs amongst the hungry horde. I would love to say it was instant success but it wasn't and with only a day and a half left I finally found what I was after.
You know when you have a flattie on as the rig seems to drag even worse than normal. I can only assume it's the bottom hugging profile of the fish that causes the receding waves to force your rig down as it's retrieved. But eventually I saw that white underside roll in the surf. I only got one but it was worth all the effort to find that single different species amongst the others.
The unplanned finale
Friday morning came all too soon and almost poetically I ran out of bait towards the end of my mornings fishing. I wasn't that bothered as even with a bit of a lull mid-week I had actually had a really enjoyable time and for once it had had been catching all the way through the holiday. Even travelling back to my temporary home I was happy to finish at that point, so I was thrown a bit off kilter when JB said she wouldn't mind spending one last afternoon by the sea.
With this free and totally unplanned finale on the cards I decided that maybe this was the time to gamble for a big fish. All week I had persisted with the small stuff though on at least one occasion I had suspected a bigger fish might have snatched like a pike does at one of my tiddlers as I reeled it in. There had to be something big around feeding on this bounty of small fish. So that in mind I made and investment and picked up enough peeler crab for a few hours fishing that afternoon.
The beach was still sunny when we arrived but the wind had turned slightly from a westerly to a north westerly and was tearing down the beach. Straight away I thought our last trip to the beach was going to be a tough one for JB. With no form of shelter we headed towards one of the sets of groins which divide the beach hoping one of the bigger pilings might afford some shelter. Even curled up behind the post on my seat the wind was battering JB so once I'd sent a bomber rig out clipped up to a 6oz lead I did the chivalrous thing and perched myself on the top of the post to deflect the wind round my better half.
The first cast yielded naff all apart from gnawing teeth stripping my bait away. But the second produced a alright codling which despite its' small stature managed to dislodged the lead and slacken off my rig totally.
I have had for a very long time one of those wonderfully simple bite indicators sea anglers some time use. Basically it comprises a crocodile clip a spring and small bell that are all soldered together. Given that I was a bit away from my rod and not exactly paying attention as I sat on the post I decided to clip this indicator on to inform me of any unseen hits.
I was shocked when the little bell started tingling away after twenty minutes. I looked up to a sight I am not used to sea fishing. My rod was bending over quite extremely for a beach caster and the butt was rising out of the sand as something tugged hard on the line. It was about then that I nearly turfed JB off her seat before I proceeded to do that thing cartoon characters do when they seem to run on the spot unable to get purchase on the floor.
Thank god I got there before it came off and when I lifted the rod I felt the lead breakaway very easily. But even with the lead free I could feel a large amount of resistance. I will openly admit I've not caught that may good fish sea fishing, but I have caught enough to know they ain't easy to get in. The way I can describe it is imagine you hook a three pound carp on light tackle; it's not a roll over fight and you have to think about it. Well add the tide trying to tug it back and pulsing waves tugging on your line the whole time and you're about there.
With a slow and steady pressure my prize was gradually coming in. Saying that, I did have to follow it along the beach as it kited against the tide. I was well away from original position when I saw a flash of white in the wave and that convinced me I had a bass on my line. But then it rolled over in the next wave and I saw a mottled golden back and the following wave deposited high a flapping proper cod at my feet. The rod was dropped and I went after it like a kid after a mudskipper before the sea grabbed it back.
I did have a set of scales with me and could have weighed it but I was more concerned with getting a photo of it. I couldn't put an accurate weight on it but just for the sake of it I reckon it was around four pounds and certainly a new PB. Luckily there wasn't any other anglers close by as what I did next would have flipped them out... I let it go! Sure I could have bonked it on the head and eaten it but we'd already been to Marks to acquire tea, and anyway I would have done this fish a disservice if I'd tried to fillet it. So hoping to bank a little karma I sent my new PB cod back to swim another day.
|The luckiest cod in the north sea.|
You would think after a week of fishing at least once a day and sometimes twice a day I would've been done. Well I wasn't! Even hankering back to the sea from as far away as you can get from in this country I had plans afoot to kick off my tench fishing season with a warm up session on Ryton Sunday morning. All I can say about that is that it turned out the tench rigs still work, the new alarms are all good, my tench rods felt like casting match sticks after using a beach caster for a week and I landed a couple of these which is always a good way to start a new campaign.